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Mac DeMarco lets us in on the joke at Beauty Bar

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Mac DeMarco injected plenty of humor into his Beauty Bar set.
Photo: Brad Elterman
Chris Bitonti

The Beauty Bar is under-attended, even for a school night, with only about 30 people sharing the trailer court. But those of us in attendance on this Wednesday night are enjoying what's basically a private alley show and for only five bucks, so I’m not going to complain.

The evening’s opening act, Calvin Love, is a Canadian pop trio featuring simple drums, clean guitar, punchy bass and some very similar-sounding melodies that become indistinguishable between songs. They're fun, but not memorable, though they finish strong, digging into some harder grooves to close the set.

Next up is Houston based quartet The Ton Tons, fresh off a well-received SXSW performance. On the surface, it would be easy to call The Ton Tons a soul revival band—after all, they are fronted by the raspy-voiced Asli Omar, sporting a '70s soul-quality afro—but musically, the Ton Tons are more akin to melodic rock, with heavy bass and Beatles-style arpegiatted guitar appearing frequently throughout their songs. It’s a nice fusion of sounds with a real pick-me-up feel, and Omar and crew can really drive it home when they need to.

Shortly after 1 a.m., Mac DeMarco takes the stage. For his live performance, Mac drops lot of the signature surf-influence that gave him indie-darling status, trading effects like the echo on his voice and guitar vibrato for a lo-fi rock sound and it really works. His weird and eclectic songs like “I’m a Man,” “What’s a Viceroy?” and “Freaking Out the Neighborhood” come to life when performed this way. Between songs, Mac is full of jokes, odd impersonations and big smiles. It’s like he’s constantly telling an inside joke that you don’t get until you’re part of it, too, like a musical Andy Kaufman. When Mac and co. wrapped up in the wee hours, I still wanted more.

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